Epidemiological evidence for the role of the hemoglobin receptor, hmbR, in meningococcal virulence.
Harrison OB., Evans NJ., Blair JM., Grimes HS., Tinsley CR., Nassif X., Kriz P., Ure R., Gray SJ., Derrick JP., Maiden MC., Feavers IM.
The distribution of the hemoglobin receptor gene (hmbR) was investigated among disease and carriage Neisseria meningitidis isolates, revealing that the gene was detected at a significantly higher frequency among disease isolates than among carriage isolates. In isolates without hmbR, the locus was occupied by the cassettes exl2 or exl3 or by a "pseudo hmbR" gene, designated exl4. The hmbR locus exhibited characteristics of a pathogenicity island in published genomes of N. meningitidis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Neisseria lactamica sequence type-640. These data are consistent with a role for the hmbR gene in meningococcal disease.